After killing both grizzly bears, the man removed their heads and paws, burying the rest on his property where COS officials located a tracker.
As Canada’s Conservation Officer Services (COS) details, their investigation began back in October of 2021 after one of their wildlife scientists discovered a severed grizzly bear GPS collar. Four tagged bear ear tips were also found with the tracking device, all in a remote location near Elkford, British Columbia.
Using the collar’s GPS, COS officials would track the last known location of the grizzly to an East Kootenay, B.C. residence. Following an investigation, CO’s determined the resident, Dax McHarg, had shot a grizzly bear sow and cub on his property.
Grizzly Bear Mutilation Lands BC Resident 10-Year Hunting Ban, $15k Fines, Community Service
According to McHarg, both bears had been accessing unsecured, free-range chickens on his property. As a result of his crimes, McHarg has been hit with a $15,152 penalty and 10-year hunting ban.
McHarg would plead guilty in Fernie Provincial Court this week for all crimes. Those include:
- Killing a grizzly sow and cub out of season
- Unlawful possession of dead wildlife
- Failing to report the accidental killing of wildlife
- Mischief under $5,000
McHarg must also retake the hunter education course CORE. Completion of 100 hours of community service is also in order.
The removal of the head and paws of the grizzly bears, then concealment of their further remains by burying would both factor into McHarg’s punishment. His firearm used to commit his crimes has been forfeited and will be destroyed, Fernie-based conservation officer Ryan Gordon tells CBC News.
‘All efforts should be made to protect both life, livestock and wildlife‘
Gordon adds that McHarg’s $15,000+ in fines and penalties could’ve been avoided with simple electric fencing. This is a proven deterrent for (most) curious bears. Self-installation runs around $500 tops. No such effort had been made by McHarg on his property.
“All efforts should be made to protect both life, livestock and wildlife,” Gordon offers for CBC. “That would be night penning. So putting your chickens into a secure building. Having electric fencing installed along with proper feeding techniques to limit smells and attractions for bears.”
Gordon also makes note that the Conservation Officer Service did not receive reports of grizzly bears accessing his chickens by McHarg. This course of action may also have spared him the crimes he committed. In turn, Gordon and the COS ask all Canadian residents to report any wildlife entering their property to the agency.
If there is a silver lining, COS cites that the majority of McHarg’s hefty fine will go towards the country’s Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation.
According to Bears in BC, half of Canada’s 25,000 grizzlies reside in British Columbia. B.C’s grizzly population remains in the range of 14,000-16,000 currently, and has for over two decades. The province continues to make an environmental commitment to sustaining their grizzly bear population. McHarg found this out the hard way.